A serial criminal who spent nine months on bail awaiting trial on a housebreaking charge went back to his elderly victims’ house days before he was due in court and subjected them to a terrifying knifepoint robbery in the dead of night.
Thomas Smyth broke into the property on Cairnie Road, Arbroath, in April last year, making off with bank cards and jewellery belonging to Jim Smith, 86, and his wife Elizabeth, 69.
Smyth was caught then released on bail and returned nine months later in the middle of the night. He sneaked into their bedroom before waking them and waving a blade in their face.
The couple said they may be forced to move out of their family home as a result, with ex-military police officer Jim adding: “I just don’t feel safe any more.”
Smyth, 49, was caught weeks after the first break-in after trying to use the bank card in a shop in the Angus town, and appeared in court in July 2017.
He was jailed for three years in 2014 after abducting a security guard at the Links Hotel in Montrose, where he worked previously.
The guard was bound and gagged, forced into a laundry room and threatened with a hammer before Smyth stole £8,445.15 in cash.
Smyth was released after serving half that term but in January 2016 found himself back behind bars for seven months after moving in with a friend on his release from jail.
When the friend and his family went on holiday, Smyth disappeared back to his native Northern Ireland with £1,100 worth of their possessions.
Despite his record of assault, fraud, abduction, robbery and failure to attend court, Smyth was granted bail and walked free over the housebreaking.
Two weeks before he was due in court Smyth went back to the same address some time after 11pm on April 4.
He bypassed elaborate security systems put in place by the elderly couple after his first break-in before going into the couple’s bedroom.
He pulled at the couple’s bedsheets, waking Elizabeth and prompting her to put on the light.
That revealed Smyth brandishing a knife, which he pointed at Jim.
Dundee Sheriff Court heard the couple had been left “terrified” and that they feared Smyth was going to stab them.
Depute fiscal Eilidh Robertson said in the first housebreaking Smyth had stolen bank cards and jewellery including Mrs Smith’s engagement ring.
She said on the second occasion Smyth “was angry and aggressive and holding a pen knife with the blade towards Mr Smith, shouting ‘where’s the money’.”
Smyth, a prisoner at HMP Perth, pled guilty to a charge of theft by housebreaking committed on April 30 2017 and assault with intent to rob committed on April 4 this year, both at the same address on Cairnie Road, Arbroath.
Sheriff Alastair Carmichael jailed Smyth for two and a half years.
‘We’ve been left suspicious of everyone’
Speaking after the case called in court, Elizabeth Smith said: “We’re like prisoners in our own home because everything is locked all the time. Jim keeps talking about moving.
“Some nights I wake up and think it’s happening again.
“It’s really knocked our confidence. We are suspicious of everyone.
“If he’d been locked up then he wouldn’t have been able to break in to our house again.
“We wouldn’t be going through what we’re going through just now.
“I don’t agree with how the justice system is being run. He’ll likely be out in no time at all.”
Jim said: “He should not have had his freedom. He shouldn’t have been running around for a year.”
Jim said he tried to charge Smyth during the second raid – but was stopped when he thrust a blade in his face.
He said: “If I’d been 20 years younger it would have been a different kettle of fish.
“I’d sprung up and was halfway out the bed before he ran towards me and shouted stay down.
“I told him that because we’d been robbed we didn’t keep anything
valuable in the house.
“He seemed to accept it and just ran off, which surprised me.”